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Whenever I talk with my non-dermatologist friends, they complain about their dry hands. This year, more than ever with more frequent hand washing, hand sanitizers, and everyone’s attempts at staying safe during this Covid pandemic, dry, cracked hands are a concern. And most importantly, when our hands are cracked or even chapped, they aren’t an effective barrier from germs. Here’s how to fix them.

Protection is the first and most effective step. When I was in my dermatology practice, I told EVERYONE who’s hands felt dry when I shook their hands that the best way to protect our hands is by not exposing them to water and harsh cleansers. I actually had gloves hanging on clip hooks in each of my exam rooms so that I could show patients how to make this step easy. And at both of my homes, I have gloves hanging inside the cabinet in my kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room. By having the gloves handy, I have no excuse to not use them. If on the other hand, you have to go hunting around for them, you probably won’t bother, and thus, you’ll aggravate your skin.

I love these Bluettes gloves because they’re lined and are therefore insulated against hot water. They are pricey, but they last FOREVER! And if they accidentally get wet, I just pop them in the dryer for a few minutes. Most vinyl gloves are thinner, but easily get pierced by silverware, so I find the Bluettes are worth the money. Also here is a link for a great clip on hook to put inside your cabinet door. This one in my photo, isn’t quite as sturdy, as the first ones weren’t available when I moved in. I plan to switch to the first hooks, when my current ones give out.

Now besides using gloves when doing dishes, using cleansers to clean house, and wiping down the counters, you also need to wear gloves when outside if the temperature is less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature drops, our hands are challenged by the cold as well as by the lower humidity usually associated with the cold. I actually ALWAYS wear gloves if it’s less than 50. In fact, even out in sunny La Quinta, California, it drops below 50 in the early morning and after sunset for the first few months of the year. When I take Bubba out for a walk during these times, I pop on a pair of cashmere lined leather gloves to protect my hands.

Every time that I wash my hands, I follow the cleansing with gentle pat drying and then lotion. The red bottles in the above photo are great for holding my usual products by my kitchen sink. The lotion I LOVE is Vanicream’s Moisturizing Lotion for Sensitive Skin. I like it because although it’s not greasy, it feels smooth and moisturizing. Because I am SOOOOO sensitive to fragrance (think HORRIBLE MIGRAINES), I love the fragrance-free nature of the Vanicream products. Also the cleanser I use is shown here as well. Neutrogena’s Ultragentle hydrating cleanser is just that, VERY gentle as yet very nicely, hydrating. I buy a bottle of each product and decant them into the glass bottles because they looks nicer on my island. Plus, because they’re clear, I can see when they’re getting low.

This second Vanicream product, “Moisturizing Skin Cream”, is somewhat heavier than the Vanicream lotion discussed above. I like to use the cream all over my body and hands right after my shower or bath. It soaks in quickly, but the way I apply it is: right after my bath or shower, I gently pat my skin dry with a soft towel, then I apply the Vanicream Moisturizing skin cream all over. Then I pop on a robe or soft tee shirt for a few minutes while I apply my make-up and do my hair. This routine works well and protects me from dry, itchy legs, feet, back, etc.

Now if you have an actual crack or fissure in your fingers, I have two more tricks. I LOVE this liquid bandage product. Just put a drop on the cracks two or three times per day to seal the skin, aiding in the healing. The other step I recommend if all the above ones aren’t sufficiently healing your hands, is to purchase 1 % hydrocortisone ointment (not cream). Apply this twice a day to the chapped areas over the Vanicream cream. If you’re still having trouble after all this, see your friendly dermatologist for some prescription salves.

Check out my recommendations for anti-aging products!

Take good care of your hands so they can take good care of you!

XO

Dr. Julie

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